Lock up and look out: increase in car burglaries due to unlocked vehicles

This map plots out where there have been incidents involving car burglaries the past few weeks. Cole Tompkins | Photographer

By Vivian Roach | Desk Editor

Car burglaries have become a recent issue on and around campus. Assistant BUPD Chief John Kolinek said the issue is simply that car doors are being left unlocked.

Last week, several car burglaries were reported around campus, at variable times during the day. On March 7, two car thefts were reported on the 1900 block of S. Fifth St. and another on the 1900 block of S. Eighth St. Two days later on March 9, car thefts were reported on the 1800 block of S. Fifth St., 800 block and 900 block of Speight Ave.

“It recently appears that the burglars are gaining access to the vehicles through unlocked doors, so it’s important to remember that anytime you leave your vehicle, you should always lock your doors and roll up your windows,” Kolinek said, in addition to removing any valuables or if there is a trunk lock, locking them inside the trunk of the car.

Kolenik also said to make sure to park in a well-lit area if you’ll be returning after nightfall, which is just as important for your own personal safety.

He said that burglars look for anything valuable: backpacks, loose change, any type of electronics, a laptop, cell phone or iPad.

“Also what’s important is that you should never leave any of your personal information in your vehicle that the burglars could gain access to,” Kolinek said.

Be aware, car thefts can happen at any time of day, Kolinek said, not just certain times in the day or night. They happen often in parking garages, parking lots and dim lit places.

If you suspect you’re the victim of a car burglary, he said to immediately call the police. BUPD can be reached at 254-710-2222 or 9-1-1. After speaking with a dispatcher, officers will be sent to the location to check on security issues or any concerns.

Houston sophomore Shelby Clark said her Ring doorbell helped prevent a burglary in her own car and her roommates’ cars earlier this year on Feb. 7.

“It was around 10:30 at night, and we saw motion on our Ring cameras. We looked outside and saw two boys that looked like they were in their late teens going up to all of our cars and pulling on the handles,” Clark said. “We called the police and told them where [the boys] went and they actually ended up catching two of [the boys] and questioned them.”

Kolenik said though they have a pretty good look of what’s going on around campus with security cameras, students should most definitely use additional technology at their own homes if they have access to these types of security cameras.

“We always try to use what is available to us, not only investigate crimes after they occur, but to hopefully prevent crimes before they occur, which is just as important,” Kolenik said. “Any type of component or technology that you can use, whether it’s on your motor vehicle, the car you drive; something that you can have in your apartment or your residence, absolutely those things are very important.”

Although cameras are all over campus, Kolenik said they are constantly looking for different ways to enhance safety for faculty, staff and students. He said students are encouraged to use the Rave Guardian app, which provides rapid communications with the police department, too.